Sept 23, 2009 Obama Speaks at the UN, Meets with Russian President

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

Sept 23, 2009 Obama Speaks at the UN, Meets with Russian President

Today is a day after the mini summit at the UN took place it is almost unnecessary for me to write this column, as everything I stated the day before the meeting remains true. Nothing was accomplished and its having taken place was probably counter productive. The Netanyahu delegation pounced on the part of the statement by President Obama that Israel must "restrain" settlement activity as a victory, since he did not say end it completely like he previously had stated (see full statement). The US administration clarified the position later on by stating that restraining and ending have the same meaning. Obama did call on the resumption of talks without conditions- conditions that the Palestinians have added lately to include either a resumption of talks where they left off with Olmert, or based on the 1967 borders. These are preconditions that Netanyahu will of co urse never accept. Netanyahu has stated that he will meet without preconditions. Meanwhile President Obama gave a fairly standard speech in the UN today, making all the usual statements, including the fact that the United States does not accept the legitimacy of any further settlements. This has been the stated US policy since 1967 so other than the Bush administration's conditional acceptance of the settlement blocks there is nothing new here.

I will also continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world. (Applause.) We will continue to work on that issue. Yesterday, I had a constructive meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. We have made some pr ogress. Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians. As a result of these efforts on both sides, the economy in the West Bank has begun to grow. But more progress is needed. We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.)

The time has come -- the time has come to re-launch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees, and Jerusalem. And the goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security -- a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people. (Applause.)

Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that he was very happy with President Obama's statement "a Jewish State" and much has been made of that recently, with one of Netanyhu’s first demands when he came into office was that the Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state. I have understood the argument- the Palestinians do not get two states the Palestinian state and the bi National State of Israel- but the language is not new, whether from the Balfour declaration calling for the establishment of a Jewish National homeland or from the text of the 1947 UN resolution 181 – the partition plan that stated: Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall come into existence in Palestine So I am glad to give Netanyahu credit for having the world call Israel a Jewish state- but it does seem to ignore history.

On a positive note President Obama seems to have had very positive meeting with Russian President Medvedev of Russia. After the meeting they both spoke about stopping Iran from aquiring nuclear weapons. Medvedev made the following comment: "Sanctions rarely lead to productive results. But in some cases sanctions are inevitable. " Maybe Obama received something from the Russians after all for ending the missile program in Eastern Europe.

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